Queen Elizabeth and world leaders applaud D-Day veterans

Queen Elizabeth and world leaders applaud D-Day veterans

PORTSMOUTH: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth joined world leaders including Donald Trump and Angela Merkel to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the largest seaborne invasion in history and a feat that helped bring World War Two to an end.
The queen, Prince Charles, presidents and prime ministers rose to applaud veterans, their coats heavy with medals, as they stood on a giant stage beside a guard of honor after a film of the Normandy landings was shown.
“We all had a part to play — I wasn’t nervous — I was apprehensive like everybody else was,” said Bert Edwards, recounting his role 75 years ago as an able seaman on the Royal Navy’s HMS Bellona.
“It’s something that happens once in a lifetime — makes you proud a little bit for taking part,” he said during the film.
Prime Minister Theresa May was joined for the commemorative events in Portsmouth by US President Trump, who is on the final day of a state visit to Britain, and his wife, Melania.
French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, German Chancellor Merkel, and leaders and senior figures from 10 other countries also attended.
“As we unite to pay tribute to those whose bravery and sacrifice on the beaches of Normandy marked a turning point in the Second World War, we will vow never to forget the debt we owe them,” May said.
“Their solidarity and determination in the defense of our freedom remains a lesson to us all.”
In the early hours of June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 allied troops set off from Portsmouth and the surrounding area to begin the air, sea and land attack on Normandy that ultimately led to the liberation of western Europe from the Nazi regime.
By the time of the Normandy landings, Soviet forces had been fighting Germany in the east for almost three years and Kremlin chief Josef Stalin had urged British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to open a second front as far back as August 1942.
The invasion, codenamed Operation Overlord and commanded by US General Dwight D. Eisenhower, remains the largest amphibious assault in history and involved almost 7,000 ships and landing craft along a 80-kilometer stretch of the French coast.
Shortly after midnight, thousands of paratroopers were dropped. Then came the naval bombardment of German positions overlooking the shore. Then the infantry arrived on the beaches.
Mostly American, British and Canadian men, some just boys, waded ashore as German soldiers tried to kill them with machine guns and artillery. Survivors say the sea was red with blood and the air boiling with the thunder of explosions.
Thousands were killed on both sides. Line upon line of white crosses honor the dead in cemeteries across northern France. Even the codenames of the sectors of the invasion — Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword — can draw tears from veterans.
Sixteen countries attended the commemorations: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Those countries agreed a proclamation to “ensure that the unimaginable horror of these years is never repeated.”
“We will act resolutely, with courage and tenacity, to protect our people against threats to our values and challenges to peace and stability,” the proclamation said.

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